PAT FENLON’S outrage over Rangers’ apparent purchasing power could easily be construed as ludicrous, on the grounds that Hibernian’s inability to compete in the market with the Glasgow organisation is hardly news.
But the significance of the Irishman’s unease should be another jolting reminder to Ibrox fans of the latest depressing consequence of the financial devastation visited upon their club in the past decade.
At present, Rangers supporters tend to acclaim each new recruit as a hero of the fightback, the personification of a defiant riposte to those who continue to celebrate the downfall of their club under the gross misdirection of David Murray and Craig Whyte.
But Fenlon’s complaint about losing potential acquisitions to Rangers amounts to nothing other than an acknowledgement that the latter have invaded the cheap end of the market, shopping in an area that would previously have been unthinkable.
Indeed, one of Ally McCoist’s most recent signings, Dean Shiels, actually spent the first five years of his senior career as a workmanlike, but hardly inspirational, Hibs player before moving to Doncaster Rovers and then Kilmarnock. His is hardly the profile of a player whose capture would help ensure the continuation of Rangers’ perennial challenge for the highest honours in the game. He is, however, fairly typical of the low-maintenance player with whom the Ibrox club can be identified during the present recruitment drive.
The arrival of Shiels, as well as Kevin Kyle, Ian Black and Francisco Sandaza also undermine the preposterous notion – almost certainly the result of rumour rather than reliable information – that Rangers are sabotaging the buying potential of SPL clubs by paying players £7,000 per week.
Kyle, Black and Sandaza were all, literally, on the dole with no apparent immediate prospects of re-employment when they were hired at Ibrox. Without access to private business between a player and his club, it is impossible to know precisely how much Shiels was earning at Rugby Park, but general information on the subject allows the legitimate speculation that his weekly wage would be unlikely to reach four figures.
Whatever else Charles Green may be, he is evidently not afflicted by an uncontrollable urge to enrich mediocre footballers by offering them around seven times their previous salary. Yet one reporter, perhaps the victim of swamp fever, last weekend described the visit of ‘the Ibrox multi-millionaires’ to Peterhead: incontrovertible proof that, in certain circumstances, you could make it up.